We first encountered Arnaud and Mélanie Aucoeur in the hill village of Villié-Morgon on a fact-finding buying trip back in 2011 before the current 'new wave 'of burgeoning, Beaujolais brilliance. We had a pretty 'free' agenda, a handful of recommendations and no strong sense of strong competition – happy days. Our first meeting was very positive – it was clear they loved tradition and possessed an ingrained respect for the lessons of the past. Arnaud is an eleventh-generation vigneron who is open to innovation but has fond memories of working in the vines alongside his grandfather at the age of 18. Mélanie's excellent English and a wealth of business acumen completed the pairing.
Today, A. and M. tend 20 hectares of vines with parcels in some of Beaujolais' best crus. They favour minimal intervention and semi-carbonic maceration, retaining a proportion of whole bunch fruit in each vinification. Unusually, they make a white Beaujolais-Villages, which accounts for just 5% of the appellation's white wine production. Made from old Chardonnay vines, it has no oak influence but inviting apple blossom aromas and a mineral-edged, orchard fruit palate with a racy, dry finish. It makes a versatile aperitif or partner to crab or whitebait. Their main red wine - in volume terms - is also a Villages bottling from mature rootstock. Made from pure Gamay, it has an uplifting violet bouquet and bright red fruit palate supported by fine-grained tannins and fresh acidity. Their Morgon wine from the celebrated 'Côte du Py' escarpment is fuller and firmer and will readily support 3 to 5+ years bottle age. With a purple robe, forest floor and cherry scents plus sensuous redcurrant and raspberry notes underscored by hints of black pepper, it is ideal served lightly-chilled with charcuterie or flash-fried 'minute' steaks. Known as the 'King' of Beaujolais', their Moulin-à-Vent wine was a chance find in 2022 and its voluptuous berry fruit flavours have proved an instant hit. With a little more stuffing than the Morgon, it will continue to develop nicely for 3 to 5 years after vintage.
The Graillot family, of Crozes-Hermitage fame, invested in Beaujolais in 2014 when they established their Domaine de Fa near Saint-Amour. Their principal organic red wine - which has a calligraphic label and eye-catching wax seal - has a wealth of juicy red fruit, supple tannins and a savoury gravel-edged finish. Unsurprisingly, it has the signature Graillot buvabilité so a second bottle is always a temptation. Climbing the ladder - in terms of wine classification - we find a fragrant Fleurie which emphasizes red fruit, suppleness and seduction in equal measure. It pairs well with pâté or small game and has been well received by bistros and brasseries. The haut de gamme here is a Saint-Amour – a wine for lovers and hedonists alike – that is steeped in bright cherry fruit. With mineral notes and delicate tannins, it is a great expression of Gamay wine for life-affirming enjoyment.